August 28, 2015
Founded by former PayPal developer Kanishk Parashar in 2014, Coin, the company behind a credit card like device that aims to replace all your debit and credit cards recently announced Coin 2.0, an upgrade of its first device. Before revealing the features of Coin 2.0, let’s review the company’s first product, Coin 1.0. The product relies on a patent-pending magnetic strip technology. The Coin device looks like a slim credit card with a small screen and few touch buttons on one side. The device connects with a smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy and now also has NFC technology in Coin 2.0. The device is accompanied with a mobile app and a card-reading device, which enables the users to register all their cards into the Coin device.
The main feature of Coin 2.0 is its compatibility with NFC technology, which will enable Coin users to make contactless payments at supporting terminals. Both the mobile app and the device will clearly outline if the cards are NFC enabled. The other big feature of Coin 2.0 is its compatibility with the EMV system, which not only makes the addition of cards easier but also makes the transactions more secure via cryptographic algorithms and differentiated PINs for each user. Big financial institutions and merchants are now rapidly adopting EMV in the US.
Other features of Coin 2.0 include an ability to give nicknames to the cards, an improved electronic strip, over-the-air software updates, faster display features and a form factor that has made Coin 2.0 thinner by 8%. Existing Coin 1.0 customers will receive Coin 2.0 for free. Coin plans to ship the new upgraded device in the first quarter of 2016. Pre-ordering for Coin 2.0 has already begun and you can buy it for $117.50.
The jury is still out on whether consumers will pay for this product in large numbers. Coin is one of a handful of companies offering dynamic magstripe based cards. Their primary USP has been to declutter the user’s wallet by consolidating all cards into one, especially while mobile payments is still in its infancy and mobile contactless payment is not always possible. The new NFC feature seems to be an attempt at staying relevant in the imminent contactless payments environment, but its utility is difficult to justify when most smartphones now have embedded NFC that can transform even non-NFC cards for mobile contactless use.